4 ways chocolate can help ease your period symptoms

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Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
@EmmaThornton
Ask Emma


22 August 2018

Choosing chocolate on your period

Menstrual cravings are most likely to occur as a result of changing hormone levels, though deficiencies in minerals such as magnesium and the body’s need for energy at this time are also thought to play a part. This can make it tempting to opt for the biggest bit of chocolate or cake possible however, although this might stem your cravings temporarily, it definitely won’t do you much good in the long run.

Any white or milk chocolate product will be full of sugar which is pro-inflammatory and so is likely to worsen any period cramps you may already be suffering from. This means that when it comes to choosing chocolate on your period, the type matters a great deal.

A small amount of high quality chocolate could help with a number of period symptoms however, in order to reap these benefits the chocolate must be at least 60% cacao. 

You can add cacao powder to a variety of recipes including our salted cacao and almond butter fudge and our cacao and peanut butter fudge.

If you want to give something like this a go I would turn to Jan de Vries to stock up on cacao powder. 

Superfoodies do a delicious one that is packed full of antioxidants and fibre, plus its 100% vegan!

If you are looking for a much quicker chocolate fix though, Jan de Vries also stock Lovechock’s Cacao Bar  which is a whopping 93% cacao!

This makes it a deliciously rich snack but with a touch of coconut blossom nectar, there is a little bit of sweetness too! 

1 - Helps ease cramp

Ok, so we’ve sorted out what type of chocolate you should be opting for, as well as how much you should consume, but how does it actually help? 

Well, dark, cacao-rich chocolate contains magnesium, a mineral that’s essential when you’re on your period. Cramp occurs as a result of tension and spasms in the muscles but magnesium can help to relax these muscles thus helping to reduce pain.

We wouldn’t recommend you fill up on dark chocolate in order to obtain your daily dose of magnesium - a little is sufficient. However, there are plenty of other foods that contain this mineral in high quantities too such as pumpkin seeds, kale, spinach and salmon. Remember, you can browse our recipes for ideas on how to use these ingredients but my personal favourite is the kiwi and ginger green smoothie!

2 - Boosts mood

Mood is another thing that can be disrupted during your period as, once again, hormones begin to rise and fall. You may find yourself getting overly emotional or stressed about things that wouldn’t normally faze you however, chocolate can help here too!

When we eat chocolate it boosts the amount of serotonin and endorphins in the body. This increases our mood because, after all, endorphins are our happy hormones.1 What’s more, there is also some suggestion that chocolate could help to reduce cortisol, our natural stress hormone, and so it could raise mood in this way too.

However, don’t go binging on chocolate straight away as one study found these mood-boosting effects to be temporary. In fact, researchers concluded that chocolate soothes bad mood for just three minutes!2 So, you might experience a slight improvement in your mood as a result of eating chocolate but don’t expect a straightforward fix!

3 - Fights tiredness

Alongside cramps and mood swings, I am sure you are aware that low energy and tiredness can also become problematic during your period. This can be linked to low iron levels as this usually transports oxygen around the body however, the mineral is lost as you bleed. This means parts of the body do not get the oxygen they need and as a result, you can begin to feel tired and lethargic.

There’s some suggestion that dark chocolate could help here too as it contains iron, thus helping to top up the levels that are lost as you bleed. Plus, the sugar in chocolate is quickly converted into blood glucose and this gives a burst of energy, albeit temporarily. 

To sustain your iron and energy levels longer term however, there are a number of foods that can help such as lentils, spinach, pumpkin seeds and pine nuts. For a tasty snack why not try our pumpkin spice breakfast bars?

4 - Provides a distraction

If dark chocolate fails to improve your cramp, mood swings or energy levels then at the very least it will provide you with a distraction from these things. It does, after all, have a delicious taste! 

Addressing period symptoms

Chocolate might not be your first point of call when it comes to addressing period symptoms as there are pain killers, hot water bottles and bubble baths to try as well. However, as I mentioned it's also important to top up your vitamin and mineral levels at this time.

This is where our Balance Mineral Drink  could come in useful. It is packed with magnesium, zinc, calcium and vitamin D to help you deal with period symptoms such as fatigue and cramps. That's not all though, it also has a delicious natural strawberry flavour!

 

1 https://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/features/the-science-of-what-chocolate-does-to-your-body/   

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17597253    

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A traditional herbal remedy used to relieve the symptoms of PMS
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Here's what I recommend

As the A.Vogel  Women’s Health advisor, I recommend Agnus castus to help relieve premenstrual symptoms such as painful periods.

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